Commodifying Culture, for Halloween Costumes.


I wonder if the Dutch are thrilled about this?

When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in the late 90s, I was a homesick student who rushed back to Northern California at every opportunity. However, there were two holidays I refused to travel on: Halloween and Independence Day. The latter is perhaps obvious; is there a better place to celebrate America? But Halloween…well, that’s changed, in many ways. While people may still get dressed up and go to M Street, in Georgetown, the night is no longer as epically naughty as it once was, now that it is confined to sidewalks. Sorry, that’s not accurate– there is one aspect of Halloween which is still crazy…the costumes. For women, specifically. A decade ago, the most risque outfits you’d see were “Naughty Nurses” or “French Maids”; now, you can get a provocative take on everything, from Marie Antoinette (I wouldn’t click that, if you’re at work) to a “Yummy Yellow Jacket” (not as risque as Marie, but you may get stung).

It’s all a bit bizarre, and if we are transforming insects like ladybugs and bumble bees in to sex objects, it seems like the point is to use Halloween as an excuse to wear as little as possible without having to worry about being judged for parading around in less material than some swimsuits. Hey, whatever floats your fake powdered wig. I save the side-eye for those special outfits which turn cultures in to costumes; while some people think it’s “fun” to be “Ghetto Fab“, “Seductive Squaw” or “Asian Doll“, I have to restrain myself from reminding these insensitive boors that some of us can’t take off our skin. My point is, ethnicity isn’t something to be ordered online for $52.95 and then worn to a succession of bars, where other revelers spill drinks on your micro-kimono or faux-feathers. Some of us are born with a certain phenotype and this affects how we are viewed and treated, every moment of every day. We don’t have the luxury of selecting our culture from a catalog and then discarding it, conveniently, after a holiday.